Articles

Dairy Show Couple Finds Connection From Across the World
Anna Wagner

Brad Gavenlock and Jessica Achen are from opposite sides of the world, Jessica from the United States and Brad from Australia, but they have one world in common that brought them together: the world of dairy shows. The couple, who currently show dairy cattle and market dairy genetics in Australia under Cherrylock Cattle Co. and Bralock Jerseys, is planning a wedding for the Monday after World Dairy Expo. Brad says “Having the wedding right after Expo makes it easier for my family and friend to come to the United States for the celebration.”

Though from different parts of the world, Brad and Jessica both grew up in the dairy industry and have grown their passion for excellent cows into careers. Jessica grew up on a 5,000 cow dairy in Stearns County, Minnesota, USA and was active in the dairy show ring. Her family has moved to a new farm in Indiana, USA, where the couple will marry shortly after World Dairy Expo. Brad’s grandfather had a dairy and after the dairy closed Brad’s father always kept a few show calves around. By 14, Brad was showing and selling his own calves. After school he went to work for a dairy show family and has been with Agri-Gene, which markets for Genex, Taurus, TWG, Browndale and Sersia for 8 years.

The American Milking Shorthorn Society (AMSS) Junior Australian Exchange Program, designed to connect AMSS junior members with the sister breed, the Australian Illawarra, brought Jessica to Australia where she met Brad at the Brisbane Royal Show. She came back to Australia on a VISA and now milks cows besides showing with Brad. Like many couples, they noted several similarities and differences in where and how they grew up, though their story has a dairy twist. Despite having identical genetics, there is a lot less marketing of dairy genetics in Australia and therefore more money can be made on genetics in the United States. Perhaps as a result of that, the dairy show atmospheres vary greatly from the United States to Australia.

“With Brad and I we can look outside the box and do greater things” says Jessica. The couple certainly has accomplished great things, winning Grand Champion at the Sydney Royal Show & International Dairy Week (the largest dairy show in the southern hemisphere), selling 50% of their embryos and heifers each year, and having a cow in quarantine making embryos to export to the U.S. Both Cherrylock Cattle Co., “for anything that isn’t brown”, and Bralock Jerseys have done well in the Australian show rings. Brad and Jessica continue to learn and grow as a true show team as they are beginning to expand from the Australian market to the United States.

Long term, the couple is excited about the prospect of moving to the United States and establishing a dairy farm and show herd in the Midwest, importing some embryos to bring in their genetics. With land being very difficult and expensive to buy in Australia and Jessica being from the United States, it seems like an excellent fit. It will be a challenge to re-establish as everyone in the Australian dairy industry knows Brad, but it is a challenge that Brad and Jessica look forward to tacking together as both a show team and husband and wife.

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